PORTLAND, Maine (2/7/14)--The president of the Maine State Senate praised credit unions this week for their efforts to mitigate the effects of childhood hunger.
Sen. Justin Alfond (D-8th District) said that state credit unions' initiatives are "very impressive and an important example of what the private sector can accomplish." Alfond made the comments at a meeting with charity leaders, educators and private sector organizations at Riverside Elementary School in Portland.
"I have been pleased to hear of the long-term commitment that Maine's credit unions have had to ending hunger, and I am really excited about the leadership that credit unions have put forth with their recent pledge to provide significant funding to support childhood hunger in Maine," he added.
Alfond also said that he is planning to meet with government agencies, food banks and private sector partners to discuss ways to combat childhood hunger, and has invited Maine's credit unions to participate.
The Maine Credit Unions' Campaign for Ending Hunger last fall committed a three-year $75,000 contribution toward expanding school backpack and pantry programs. The program, which was spearheaded by the Maine Credit Union League in 1990, has raised more than $4.8 million since its creation. In that time, Maine credit unions have raised almost $95 million toward hunger eradication, according to the MCUL.
Alfond pointed out that student hunger is a "major problem in Maine," and praised the backpack program for alleviating hunger over weekends and holidays. "It is not enough to provide meals during school. Hunger is seven days a week," he said.
More than four out of 10 children under the age of 12 in Maine show evidence of hunger, and 68,950 children are food insecure, according to MCUL. The league said that new data shows 15% of the state's households, containing some 200,000 people, are food insecure. The state is 13th in the nation and first in New England in food insecurity.
MCUL President John Murphy said that he appreciates Maine credit unions' participation and "the significant role credit unions have had in raising awareness and funds to end hunger in Maine for many years."